High-impact training may help osteoarthritis patients

January 2, 2014


High-impact training may help osteoarthritis patients

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the joint disease, which often results in limited mobility, chronic pain and total joint replacements, affects 27 million adults in the U.S.

While millions of men currently live with the condition, women are more prone to developing osteoarthritis, especially in the knees, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Combined with osteoporosis, or bone loss, from menopausal changes, older women are more susceptible to weaker bones, stiffer muscles and chronic joint pain, sometimes with little relief. However, a new study has found that an exercise regimen of high-impact training may help osteoarthritis patients - particularly postmenopausal women - retain their bone strength and function.

Researchers looked at the impact that high-intensity moves had on the cartilage and bones of 80 postmenopausal ranging from 50 to 65 years of age, all of whom had almost-daily joint pain from mild knee osteoarthritis. Once the women were split into groups, the researchers had the training group perform a "progressive exercise program" three times a week for 12 months, while the control group just completed their normal physical activity. After 12 months, the researchers saw that strength-building exercise may prevent, or at least slow down, bone loss - specifically, the loss of femoral neck bone mineral mass in the knee. 

"The loss of proteoglycans from the articular cartilage is considered to represent the onset of the degenerative process of osteoarthritis," said researcher Juhani Multanen. "If this loss of proteoglycans can be hindered, for example, via physical activity, it might slow down the disease progression."

While several exercises, such as ones that include jumping, were previously thought to harm the knees of patients with osteoarthritis, the researchers stated that jumping exercises and moves that required swift changes of direction improved bone strength in the knee the most. Additionally, the study found that high-impact training benefited the circulatory and respiratory systems, as well as balance and muscle strength.

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